One of the standout domestic teams of the 2021 season, Crimson Orientation Marketing RT, will close at the end of the year.
The team had grown quickly in its four short years, establishing itself as one of the best-run and best-performing domestic outfits. With both a men’s and a women’s squad, a strong focus on its northwest roots, and a set of striking crimson-coloured kits, the team had a unique identity.
The team began the year with big ambitions. With new sponsors on board and some eye-catching new signings, the team’s manager, Matt Hallam, set out not only to challenge the British UCI Continental teams in key domestic races, but also secure enough sponsorship to join the Continental ranks in 2022.
The team more than succeeded on the first front. The men’s team began to show their potential in July by finishing fourth in the National Circuit Series, besting several UCI Continental teams. They were impressive in the Tour Series too, second overall in the team standings until the final round, eventually finishing fourth, a slender three points behind winners Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling.
If they impressed in the premier circuit races, however, they excelled in the National Road Series. The men’s team finished second overall, ahead of all the UCI Continental teams bar Canyon dhb SunGod. There were standout individual performances from the youngsters Isaac Peatfield and Toby Barnes in particular, with the former finishing fourth overall in the individual standings – the second-best under-23 rider – and the latter tenth.
The team turned heads, so much so that Saint Piran reportedly approached three of their riders to ride for them during the Tour of Britain, leading to Leon Mazzone’s switch from Crimson to the Cornish team just before the Ryedale Grand Prix.
Seems likes a Cornish team needs some northern grit after trying to sign our best lads for the Tour of Britain which starts next week… 😬— Matt Hallam (@matt_hallam) August 23, 2021
The women’s squad has also continued to grow this year. The team finished in the top ten of every round of the Tour Series this year, thanks to Sammie Stuart, who reached the podium with third in Sunderland. And Gwenno Hughes’ top 20 at the Curlew Cup was also a highlight.
The team doesn’t explain the reasons for its closure in its farewell post, saying for now that, “Multiple factors have led to this decision” and, “It hasn’t been an easy call to make”. We hope to interview Matt Hallam soon to find out more.
In the meantime, the team’s last competitive event will be the National Road Championships in Lincoln next week.
Matt Hallam’s reaction to the selection procedures for the championships perhaps hint at some of the challenges that have led to the team’s closure, with Matt clearly frustrated that only three of the men’s team riders were selected to ride despite the squad’s excellent season. Hopefully, we’ll understand more when we interview him in the coming days.
Incredibly disappointed that only 3 of my guys got a ride in the @BritishCycling National Road & Crit Champs. We are currently 2nd in the National RR standings both individually & in the team classification. It’s been a team effort to get us there but that goes unnoticed (1)— Matt Hallam (@matt_hallam) September 23, 2021
We pride ourselves on being impartial here at The British Continental but, on a personal note, we want to put on record we’ll miss the team. Its departure is a blow to the domestic racing scene. In many ways, the rise of the Crimson Orientation Marketing team coincided with the growth of this humble blog. Matt was one of the first managers to reach out to us when we started The British Continental in late 2018, a conversation that resulted in the rough guide to starting a bike team series. We’ve stayed in touch with him ever since and have always admired his professional approach to developing and promoting the team. This approach clearly paid dividends as he steadily increased the team’s budget through increased sponsorship and created what was arguably the highest-performing elite team in the UK this year.
We wish him – and the rest of the team – all the very best in whichever directions they head next.
Featured photo: Alex de Palma